The action that precedes the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics is complete, with the highlight of the day being the figuring skating routine in singles and pairs competition.
While no medals were on the line, the event was a way for individuals and teams alike to put their countries on the fast track to some hardware.
The United States stumbled out of the gate in both categories, while local Russian heroes did right by their fans and took strong positioning in both regards, as NBC helps to illustrate:
The full standings are final, and three performances in particular stand out.
|9||Matthew Parr||Great Britain||57.40||2|
|10||Paul Bonifacio Parkinson||Italy||53.94||1|
|1||Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov||RUS||83.79||10|
|2||Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford||CAN||73.10||9|
|3||Peng Cheng & Zhang Hao||CHN||71.01||8|
|4||Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek||ITA||70.31||7|
|5||Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir||USA||64.25||6|
|6||Maylin Wende & Daniel Wende||GER||60.82||5|
|7||Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres||FRA||57.45||4|
|8||Narumi Takahashi & Ryuichi Kihara||JPN||46.56||3|
|9||Julia Lavrentieva & Yuri Rudyk||UKR||46.34||2|
|10||Stacey Kemp & David King||GBR||44.70||1|
Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan
What a way to start the Games in Sochi.
At 19 years of age, Yuzuru Hanyu was awfully composed in front of thousands of fans as he ripped off a 97.98 score thanks to some eye-popping combinations. Nick McCarvel of NBC Olympics helps to break the performance down:
Incredibly enough, Hanyu says he was "out there to have fun," as McCarvel captures:
Japan has an obvious lead as a result of Hanyu's strong showing, and while Japan is the obvious favorite, this event is far from over.
It was a near-perfect performance from a young athlete undaunted by the biggest stage in the world. It's still very early, but it's quite possible spectators may have just witnessed the best performance in any sport that these Games have to offer.
Yevgeny Plushenko, Russia
The comeback story for Yevgeny Plushenko is about to come full circle.
Plushenko is one of the most recognizable faces in the sport's history at the age of 31. Over the course of his prestigious career, he won silver in 2002 and 2010, with the highlight being his gold medal in 2006.
But Plushenko underwent back surgery in February and has hardly been seen since.
The obvious goal of his recovery was a gold medal in front of his home fans, and he is well on his way with the 91.39 score he posted on opening day. After the impressive run, Plushenko did not appear to be suffering any setbacks, once again via McCarvel:
Plushenko appears to have another epic run left in the tank, which was readily apparent with his performance that landed him in second place.
Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, Russia
As far as action in the team pairs program goes, it is hard to mention any team but Russia's duo of Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov.
Volosozhar and Trankov ended with a score of 83.79, which effectively blew all other total scores out of the water.
The duo was fueled by a very active and friendly crowd, as Ollie Williams of BBC points out:
Standing ovation for Russian pairs skaters Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov in team event. Bigger reception than Plushenko from fans.— Ollie Williams (@OllieW) February 6, 2014
The dominant showing in front of the proverbial home crowd was the highlight of the evening, as Elliott Almond of the San Jose Mercury News illustrates:
Russian rekindles skating dominance on opening night of team event. Pairs were off-the-charts good. Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov.— Elliott Almond (@ElliottAlmond) February 6, 2014
Russia has a major advantage with things fully underway, and the pair of Volosozhar and Trankov appear to be an unstoppable force.